Steven J. Davis

Contact Information

University of California, Irvine
Department of Earth System Science
3232 Croul Hall
Irvine, CA 92697-3100


Professor of Earth System Science, University of California, Irvine: [Ph.D. in Geological and Environmental Sciences from Stanford University].  Prof. Davis works to understand and find ways to meet the challenge of satisfying global demand for energy, food, and goods without emitting carbon dioxide to the atmosphere.

He is interested in studies of coupled human and natural systems and sustainable systems analysis, including: energy technology and policy; of pollution and resources embodied in international trade; of socio-economic inertia and “lock-in” of environmental problems; and of the complex interactions of energy systems, agriculture, climate change, and global ecology.


  • 2008   Ph.D. Geological and Environmental Sciences, Stanford University
  • 2001   J.D. Virginia School of Law, University of Virginia
  • 1998   B.A. Political Science and Philosophy, University of Florida, Phi Beta Kappa

Academic Experience


University of California, Irvine: Department of Earth System Science
    Associate Professor     2016-present
    Assistant Professor     2012-2016

Chinese Academy of Sciences: Institute of Applied Ecology
    Young International Distinguished Professor     2015-2016

Tsinghua University:  Center for Earth System Science
    Visiting Professor     Summer 2015

Carnegie Institution for Science:  Department of Global Ecology
    Senior Research Associate     2010-2012
    Postdoctoral Researcher     2008-2010

University of Washington: Joint Institute for the Study of the Atmosphere and Ocean
    Visiting Scholar     2010-2012

Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution: Marine Policy Center
    Guest Investigator     2009-2010

Stanford University: Department of Geological and Environmental Sciences
    Research Assistant     2004-2008

Professional Experience

  • Watershed: Head of Climate Science; 2022-present
  • Near Zero: Co-Founder and Chief Scientist; 2009-Present
  • The Climate Conservancy: Co-Founder and Executive Director; 2006-2010
  • Gray, Cary, Ware & Freidenrich, LLP (now DLA Piper), Corporate and Securities Group: Associate Attorney; 2002-2004

Professional Affiliations and Service

  • State Bar of California
  • American Geophysical Union
  • American Association for the Advancement of Science
  • Geological Society of America
  • Editorial Board, Environmental Research Letters
  • Review Editor, Frontiers in Energy Systems and Policy
  • Global Carbon Project
  • National Climate Assessment


Research Interests: 

Biogeochemical cycles; energy technology and policy; emissions and energy embodied in international trade; life cycle assessment; interactions of agriculture and climate; human drivers of greenhouse gas emissions; and socio-economic inertia of climate change. Expert in the interactions of energy, agriculture, water, climate and international trade.

Selected Honors and Awards: 
2015: National Academy of Sciences: PNAS Cozzarelli Prize
2016: UC Irvine: Outstanding Contributions to Undergraduate Education
2017: Ecological Society of America Sustainability Science Award
2018: AGU Macelwane Medal (Conferred Fellow)